Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property.
With his wife's full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles' feet.
Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?
Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God."
When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened.
Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.
About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.
Peter asked her, "Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?" "Yes," she said, "that is the price."
Peter said to her, "How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also."
At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband.
Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.
The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon's Colonnade.
No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people.
Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.
As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by.
Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.
Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy.
They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail.
But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out.
"Go, stand in the temple courts," he said, "and tell the people the full message of this new life."
At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people. When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin--the full assembly of the elders of Israel--and sent to the jail for the apostles.
But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported,
"We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside."
On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were puzzled, wondering what would come of this.
Then someone came and said, "Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people."
At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.
Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest.
"We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name," he said. "Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man's blood."
Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men!
The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead--whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.
God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.
We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him."
When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death.
But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while.
Then he addressed them: "Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men.
Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing.
After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered.
Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail.
But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God."
His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.
Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.
In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.
So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.
Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them
and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word."
This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.
They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.
Now Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people.
Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)--Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia. These men began to argue with Stephen,
but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke.
Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, "We have heard Stephen speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against God."
So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin.
They produced false witnesses, who testified, "This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law.
For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us."
All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
Then the high priest asked him, "Are these charges true?"
To this he replied: "Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran.
'Leave your country and your people,' God said, 'and go to the land I will show you.'
"So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living.
He gave him no inheritance here, not even a foot of ground. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child.
God spoke to him in this way: 'Your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years.
But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves,' God said, 'and afterward they will come out of that country and worship me in this place.'
Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. And Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him eight days after his birth. Later Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs.
"Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him
and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt; so he made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace.
"Then a famine struck all Egypt and Canaan, bringing great suffering, and our fathers could not find food.
When Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers on their first visit.
On their second visit, Joseph told his brothers who he was, and Pharaoh learned about Joseph's family.
After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family, seventy-five in all.
Then Jacob went down to Egypt, where he and our fathers died.
Their bodies were brought back to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought from the sons of Hamor at Shechem for a certain sum of money.
"As the time drew near for God to fulfill his promise to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt greatly increased.
Then another king, who knew nothing about Joseph, became ruler of Egypt.
He dealt treacherously with our people and oppressed our forefathers by forcing them to throw out their newborn babies so that they would die.
"At that time Moses was born, and he was no ordinary child. For three months he was cared for in his father's house.
When he was placed outside, Pharaoh's daughter took him and brought him up as her own son.
Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.
"When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his fellow Israelites.
He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian.
Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not.
The next day Moses came upon two Israelites who were fighting. He tried to reconcile them by saying, 'Men, you are brothers; why do you want to hurt each other?'
"But the man who was mistreating the other pushed Moses aside and said, 'Who made you ruler and judge over us?
Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?'
When Moses heard this, he fled to Midian, where he settled as a foreigner and had two sons.
"After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai.
When he saw this, he was amazed at the sight. As he went over to look more closely, he heard the Lord's voice:
'I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.' Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look.
"Then the Lord said to him, 'Take off your sandals; the place where you are standing is holy ground.
I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. Now come, I will send you back to Egypt.'
"This is the same Moses whom they had rejected with the words, 'Who made you ruler and judge?' He was sent to be their ruler and deliverer by God himself, through the angel who appeared to him in the bush.
He led them out of Egypt and did wonders and miraculous signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea and for forty years in the desert.
"This is that Moses who told the Israelites, 'God will send you a prophet like me from your own people.'
He was in the assembly in the desert, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; and he received living words to pass on to us.
"But our fathers refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt.
They told Aaron, 'Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt--we don't know what has happened to him!'
That was the time they made an idol in the form of a calf. They brought sacrifices to it and held a celebration in honor of what their hands had made.
But God turned away and gave them over to the worship of the heavenly bodies. This agrees with what is written in the book of the prophets: " 'Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the desert, O house of Israel?
You have lifted up the shrine of Molech and the star of your god Rephan, the idols you made to worship. Therefore I will send you into exile' beyond Babylon.
"Our forefathers had the tabernacle of the Testimony with them in the desert. It had been made as God directed Moses, according to the pattern he had seen.
Having received the tabernacle, our fathers under Joshua brought it with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before them. It remained in the land until the time of David,
who enjoyed God's favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.
But it was Solomon who built the house for him.
"However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men. As the prophet says:
" 'Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be?
Has not my hand made all these things?'
"You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!
Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him--
you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it."
When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.
But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
"Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."
At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him,
dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.